Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where is the T in LGBT?

In the words of the fabulous Joan Rivers, can we talk? Rather, can I bitch? I’ll just take a few seconds here and day dream that anyone actually gives a shit. I know, ‘so you got problems eh? Let me tell you about problems’. I’ve always pride myself on being an extreme, ultra liberal. Oh I’m serious, I’m about as much of a flower power, free love, and pro make weed legal hippie a trans-woman of color can be. Honestly I’ve only had to really battle one prejudice in my life and that’s religious sects that don’t believe Jesus is the son of God and that’s an all together different blog. But I’m over that in my adult years. When you reach the bottom of the bowl of soup you still have the same ingredients you started off with. All of the religions are basically the same. So I consider myself 99.999% percent non-prejudice. After a decade of doing gender illusion shows in gay bars, I’ve met and continue to maintain close friends of gay men along with straight, lesbian bi, pansexual and others that are yet to be given a label. No I don’t mean in the ‘oh I have a black friend back in elementary’, kind of friend. Or the ‘I’m not homophobic, I have a gay friend, he works downstairs for our company, I forgot which floor’ person. Actual sit and have dinner friends. Ok, well I do have .001% prejudice reserved for the ultra conservative republicans. Just can’t get myself to understand that much stupidity.
Ok, got the violin ready? Three months into blogging and I’m finding myself a little disappointed in the lgbt world online. There’s been a lot of chatting about a story lately concerning Monica Beverly Hillz “coming out as a transgender” on the Rupual Show. There are a couple of things that sort of rubs me the wrong way about this story. First let me state what doesn’t bother me. To Monica congratulations on being seen visible as a transgender person. Also, though many in the transgender community and I have some issues with RuPaul, I will say this, I respect him tremendously as a person with a message, his talent, his visibility for what he’s doing and just being a member of the lgbt community. No my issue is how this is referred to as a coming out story. Logo is an lgbt network right? Oh sorry it’s the gay sometimes lesbian network, I forgot. Still, it’s included in that foursome. Is there anyone watching that show doubting anyone on stage is a member of the lgbt community? How is it that a person on a show about drag queens (men dressing as women), on a gay network that ‘tries’ to cater to the lgbt group, announcing that she is transgender considered a ‘coming out’ story. Who did she come out to, the room just outside the closet? It’s like preaching to the choir. I can get she took the moment on national television to tell the world she’s transgender and therefore maybe in some part educate the audience this season about the difference. It being a drag ‘queen’ show I’d understand a proclamation of this as ‘who I am’. I’m the T not the G in lgbt.
In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Monica was asked by the reporter, "Drag Race, did you foresee this moment happening on the show.” I’d like to answer that mister reporter, yes. Considering Rupaul got into hot water with most of the transgender community, the odds of them portraying the show as accepting to transgender people was more than likely to come up. We’re not worthy Queen Rupaul, so thankful for you and the gay community’s acceptance. To me the most troubling and sad answer for me from Monica Hillz was when she was asked, were you freaking out about how the judges might react?” She replied that was the main reason why I didn't want to say anything. I took a huge chance. That could have been my ticket [off of the show].” WTF? Are we at a point that a transgender person would feel afraid of being kicked off a show with men dressing as women on an lgbt network? RuPaul should feel ashamed someone on his show felt this way. Ok for those of you that have zero knowledge of the drag community, briefly; in every state in the United States, in gay bars that have shows, there has been, is or will be a transgender show girl on the cast or as a featured performer. And my fellow transgender sisters you’re not off the hook either. I’ve been shocked to read blogs condemning the story, questioning whether a transgender should even be performing in drag shows, again WTF? It’s like while some transgender feminist elite may have married and struggled with their gender there are a ton of transgender women who struggled but found refuge in drag. They are no or more less a transgender as someone who doesn’t perform and with the limitations of straight society allowing transgender people in media, you’d think the trans community would be flocking to their nearby gender illusion show bar to meet and support trans-women showgirls. It is also more politically correctly referred to as gender illusionist rather than drag. You can thank Rupaul for that set back. Given the fact he was always more referred to as a club kid drag and is a gay male that dresses it’s not surprising that’s the main promotion you can gather from his show. Gender illusion (drag) is equivalent to the use of the word Tranny by the trans-community. But for this girl to have felt that she would have been kicked off a drag show on a gay network is really sad and weird to me. And the supporters of her not being on the show are even more shocking to me. Specifically, when hearing that those voices are coming from the Gay/Lesbian/Trans conservative elite. If this continued attempt at dividing the gender illusionist community and the transgender community in the process, because whether you accept it or not they are extremely connected, we’ll be doing more harm than good. In one corner you have the gay community constant reference to effeminate men or men who wear dresses as less than them or lessening their cause. It’s been an argument in the gay/lesbian sects for decades. It’s even brought about a sort of self imposed version of gay on gay homophobia as in the use of terms like ‘straight acting’. This term attempts to set apart the gay men who show no stereotypical aspects of being gay as somewhat superior to the men who do. A sad form of self hate most minority groups seem to impose onto themselves. Similar in the transgender community’s debate over the term ‘passing’ or ‘blending’ which can imply they are more woman/man than those that don’t. And can remain invisible or stealth in hetro society. Which is viewed both positive and negative by many in the T world and will more than likely continue to divide those, that either for no fault of their own cannot be invisible, those that choose to be visible against those that just want to be viewed as just another man or woman. Accepted or not are to a certain degree the very bases for transitioning. Everyone from the gay/lesbians to transgender and racial minority groups find themselves at odds with those that want to celebrate their difference to the ones that just want to convince themselves they are just like anyone other straight heterosexual white person. Now seems we want to divide the gender illusionist (drag) into sections instead of just letting it be entertainment. And this negative view in the media is not coming from mainstream heterosexual semi homo/trans phobic media but our own.
Also is the gay media saying to transgender people we sort of have to come out twice now, once to the society, family etc., then to the lgb community? Is there an attempt to separate gay men (the implied more elite) who dress as women for entertainment from those trans-women. Is that what the articles are trying to imply? Hopefully someone in the lgbt does care and explain to me that the media was not being derogatory to Trans-women. At the moment I’m a little confused, but I’ll sleep ok. Just would like to be able to wrap my head around the media’s implications. Regardless kudos to Miss Hillz but…

Yes there’s more. You didn’t think a trans-woman of color who wanted to bitch was going to avoid a stereotype and stop there did you? Again, for the record let me state, that I’m a huge fan of Mr. Buck Angel. I have trans-male friends and briefly dated a trans-man and several years ago when I first heard of his porn success, and to be totally honest, I was like hot damn, thank goodness. Here come the boys. I was so glad to see the male segment of the transgender community. As more trans-men became visible on the scene I was relieved. Sorry my sisters but honestly I felt finally we as a group can begin to make some real progress. I know there have been countless trans-women, but few to make the changes needed. Most can’t seem to leave their image in the mirror. Think I’m wrong? Go on face book; go to a transgender group page. Tell me if you see the majority of anyone posting anything about anything other than them. I’m an ultra proud sexy liberal and feminist, but this is going to sound sexist. We needed the men in the community to lead. There I said it, sorry sisters, I know many have tried but more than many don’t give a damn about their own community until they need their community. Maybe in a certain way this is some traditional belief I have that men are just better leaders and they are proving it.
For example; Buck Angel is considered a major advocate for transgender issues despite the fact he is an AVN Best Transgender adult film star winner. He is not just a female to male who has made a porn film or two he’s the pioneer and the best in the biz. A major speaker at transgender advocacy groups and respected. The majority of the trans-male segment seems to have no quorums with how he gained his celebrity status. What about Natassia Dreams, Bailey Jay, Sexxxy Jade and Amy Daly? They would be crucified by the transgender female elite and especially the wannabe elite. One out of five blogs I run across with any mention of trans-women who either prostitute or do porn is verbally blasted by their own for being cheap, degrading to trans-women and cut off from any participation in the fight for equality. Even gay male and lesbian porn stars are given somewhat of celebrity status from the gay and lesbian society. For as long as transgender porn has been successful trans-women have torn and ostracized those that take part in it. Some of the most visible and beautiful trans-women told by their own group to stay invisible.
Often people are asked the question, “if you had three people, dead or alive, that you would like to spend the day with, whom would they be?” Without a doubt Gloria Steinem would be one of my three. I believe in the feminist movement and the battles against Larry Flint of Hustler. In all fairness those were women fighting to be viewed as more than sexual object s and in that since I do understand the hesitation. I myself loath the fact that any man online that writes nearly always assumes sex with you is guaranteed somehow. The sad fact however, is we are in a more severe fight for equality and visibility and why are we not taking whatever small contributions those women have to offer? They are equally subjected to the same intolerance and discrimination as any other trans-female. Many of those trans-females being those that have spent most of their time in their biological bodies long enough to establish themselves in a profession that hopefully continued during transition. Jealousy among women is legendary and while some had the opportunity of self discovery earlier in life they have endured the same if not more limitations placed upon them, forcing them to a level of life not willing to be understood by the same peoples that bare a similar cross in life.

Nearly ten years ago when I moved to Charleston, SC I joined a local support group. At 26 I was the youngest, the nearest age to me was 44. I befriended that trans-sister of 44(will withhold name) who at the time owned her own construction company. A very successful construction company I may also add. That afforded her a life, what would be considered in the area, to be among the lower of the most upper class residents of Charleston metro. A beautiful Brazilian wife and home in one of the best neighborhoods in the area. When I met her she had struggled as many for years with the similar dilemma to transition or not to transition and had just made the decision to be who she was inside. A very similar story of too many Transwomen, but what many trans-feminist trollers decline to tell you was the dark side of coming out. She lost her wife first, slowly lost respect within her company until her partners banned together, cheated and forced her out. Her son disowned her and shortly later she lost her home. She moved into my apartment complex and struggled to find work. She was not as some will say in the community, passable, which only made the difficulty tenfold. She sold Avon, Mary Kay and eventually even cannabis. Then she could no longer pay the rent. She was not the only one from the group I witness be introduced to these unforeseen issues of being who you wanted to be. Another in the group, in danger of foreclosure, decided to do escorting. My friend who lost her apartment was faced with this as her only decision to make ends meet. And yes she was a trans-feminist as any other. She once never missed an opportunity to belittle the trans-women that prostituted themselves and did porn and now she had found herself one of them.
The strain of that hypocrisy weighed heavy on her and it made continuing a friendship nearly impossible. She eventually moved away for bigger clientele, now in her mid fifties I wonder how much longer she can hold out. It’s not always a black and white story when it comes to prostitution and making porn films when it comes to transgender people. More times than few, trans-women are not waking and making the decision to be all they can be and go whore today. Discrimination in the workplace, lack of education, recourses and the worst, denied the assistance of local transgender support teams, are forced into these situations. I find myself at many parts of my transgender life stuck in the middle of one world with two nations. I’ve seen those beautiful Trans women of the sex industry that had been thrown away by family, little education and now even fewer job prospects. Grow bitter and resentful at the middle aged men transitioning they view lucky to keep family or job. And I’ve watched those that were blessed to continue a smaller but constant grasp of the life they had already earned pre transition, degrade the women they feel are hindering the fight for trans-equality for having few other options. While trans-men embrace their porn star and uplift him, trans-women tear theirs down. While masculine gay men struggle to marry whom they love they reject the androgynous male with a lisp. And now in a time we should be celebrating that an lgbt show that’s ran successful for five years on a network for and by lgbtqia people, we make a young transgender showgirl feel as threatened and afraid to come out as if she was appearing on the most conservative right wing talent show. Where is the unity in lgbt I ask? Where is the universal support in a group with all who know all too well the persecutions by the conservative heterosexual society for their fellow brethren? We may have different choices, come from different backgrounds but lesbian and gay men are my cousins and I support them. Bisexual and Queer my neighbors and trans-women and men my brothers and sisters. Without unity and understanding we lose the greatest battle of all, our celebration of who we are.


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